La Ciudad Blanca
Arequipa is a very beautiful city in the south of Peru. Not far from the chilean border and maybe 2.5 hours to the Pacific ocean, located on 2.335m height in the Peruvian Andes. La Ciudad Blanca (the white city - because of its mainly white buildings) is with around 900.000 inhabitants the second biggest city of Peru. It is famous for its colonial architecture, different cuisine, chocolate and beautiful surroundings. Together with a very mild climate all over the year (usually not below 20°C during the day) it is a very popular destination for vacations for peruvians as well as tourists from all over the world. Especially because of its location between Cusco and Lima it is a favored stop for many backpackers.
We just passed by and unfortunately only stayed two days in the city, which is enough to explore everything around the center but too less to really get to know this awesome place and the beautiful environment. But if you plan to go to Arequipa we can recommend you the following things to:
- Have a walk through the center - especially Plaza de Armas with its stunning cathedral and Plaza San Francisco are true masterpieces of architecture. Also the rest of the city is just beautiful with its paved streets and all white colonial buildings.
- Have a tasty meal - Arequipa is famous for its food culture, so check in one of the plenty restaurants in the city center and enjoy some tasty Peruvian food. Like in the rest of Peru most of the meals are containing meat, so besides potatoes and rice there is often no alternative for vegetarians. Good options are Ocopa - fried cheese with potatoes in a spicy peanut sauce and Soltero de Queso - a salad from cheese, lima beans, rocoto, corn, onions, tomatoes and parsley. Other typical dishes of the region are: Rocoto Relleno - a spicy pepper filled with minced meat and cheese, Pastel de Papa - baked potato slices with eggs and cheese, Adobo - a classical hangover soup from pork, onions, garlic and rocoto - mainly served on Sunday mornings but in the touristic restaurants you can get it at any time. The prices are like in the rest of Peru quiet low so you can get a soup, a second course and a drink from 6PEN (1,60€) at the central market, in local restaurants or on the street. In the touristic restaurants a main course starts from 30PEN (8€) and snacks like Falafel, Schawarma or Arroz Chaufa are available from 10PEN (2,70€). Oh and you should definitely try a Helado de Queso, ice cream made from cream cheese, super tasty and available in every corner.
- Visit the Mercado Central - I know we recommend this for every city but its just the best place to get to know more about the local cuisine and discover new fruits and vegetables.
- Visit the monastery of Santa Catalina - the most important religious building from the colonial times. It was built up in 1579 on a space of 20.426 m² and is one of the most impressive pieces of architecture in the city.
- Go for a museum tour - the center offers plenty of free or reasonable museums for all kind of interests, a really recommendable is the Museo Santuarios Andinos with some of the most important archeological discoveries from the Inca times like the mummy Juanita.
- Go Hiking - from Arequipa you can see the two sleeping volcanoes Misti and Ampato. For both of them you can book organized tours from the agencies in the city center. The volcanoes are a popular destination for archeologists, since they where used by the Incas for ceremonies and sacrifices. There are many discovered and likely many undiscovered Inca sites to visit. Another great hiking opportunity is the Colca Canyon, approximately 97km in the north of the city. With a height of 3,270m it is one of the deepest canyons worldwide and the third most popular tourist attraction in Peru. In the Canyon you can see several attractions like beautiful mountain ranges, Inca terraces, rock paintings from ancient cultures and the Andean condor, which is with a wingspan of 3.3 m one of the biggest flying birds in the world.
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